The Chinese government on Tuesday said that it has set up a rigorous food tracking and monitoring system for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and food safety for the games was fully guaranteed.
"All the procedures involving Olympic food, including production, processing, packaging, storing and transporting, will be closely monitored," said Sun Wenxu, an official with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce.
The information would be incorporated into a database, which would enable food supervisors to be fully aware of all the procedures and trace the sources in case of any incidents, Sun said.
Experts estimate that more than 75,000 liters of milk, 330 tons of fruit and vegetables, 82 tons of seafood, 750 liters of ketchup, 131 tons of meat, 21 tons of cheese and three million bottles of beverages will be consumed by athletes, coaches, officials and journalists during the Beijing Olympics.
Sun said in order to ensure such an amount of food was served "safely", Beijing had detailed a series of technical standards, covering the packaging, storing and transporting criteria of 345 foods.
The government has come under great pressure to improve food safety following a series of controversies caused by substandard food, ranging from drug-tainted fish to banned Sudan dye used to color egg yolks red.
To allay rising public dissatisfaction, the government had laid out a five-year plan to tighten the supervision of food and drug products and promised to "significantly reduce the number of incidents caused by substandard food or drug products" by 2010.
Earlier reports said Beijing has set up an expert panel on food security for the 2008 Olympics, which included seven Chinese and eight foreign experts.
The panel, jointly established by the Beijing Municipal Bureau for Industry and Commerce and the Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympics, has been mulling the criteria, testing and monitoring systems for food security for the Olympics.
The panel has also drawn up a draft list of 30 performance-enhancing drugs to be closely monitored as well as their allowable volumes in Olympics food.
Chinese cuisine, which will make its debut on the Olympic menu in 2008, is expected to account for 30 percent of the Olympic food.
"Chinese cuisine is famous for its rich ingredients and delicate condiments, but the more ingredients the food contains, the more risks it might have," said Cai Tongyi, an expert with the food safety panel.
Cai, a nutrition professor with the China Agricultural University, said after careful selection, the panel has recommended 1,000 Chinese dishes to the International Olympic Committee. "We are waiting for the approval of IOC."
(Xinhua News Agency July 11, 2007)